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Top 10 Tips on Getting Great Recordings In Your Home Studio
You went out and got an interface, and a mic and all is going good for you. You are now recording and you just not getting the sound you want. Well, these tips are designed to help you get past this stage and get some great recordings.
1. Don’t ignore the room
Whatever room you are in it has to sound. That sound is going to make it into the microphone AND your recording. If the room you are in is very reverberant, then it is not a good room for recording.
You want a room that is somewhat dead and absorptive. Try to find a room that has a carpet on the floor, a bed and a lot of clothes. Find a room that’s not very reflective. A good test for this is to do a hand clap test. Clap your hands in a room, if you hear a lot of echoes and flatters and reverberations then it’s probably a bad sound.
To fix the problems that you are having in the recording environment you may need some type of acoustic foam or some type of reflection filter (shown examples on my youTube video) that goes up behind your microphone to help stop some of those reflections.
2. Set and Monitor Input Levels
So many sessions that I get from people asking me to mix have some real problems with the input levels. Either the input level is too loud or it's too quiet. I’ve even seen some people try to compensate for levels by using the clip gain. Avoid that all together. Make sure that you are watching your levels as you are recording.
You should be looking at the input meter all the time. You don’t want your meters to be too loud to where the signals are clipping but you also don’t want it to be too quiet. The problem with the signals being too loud is that it can start to clip or distort. That will make your mixes sound amateur and trash.
The problem with the recording level being too low is that you are closer to the noise floor. You will have to raise those sounds to be as loud as the industry standards. When you do that, not only are you bringing up your vocals or whatever instruments you recorded but will also be bringing up the background noise like the air conditioner, clips, and pops.
The average input level that I recommend is about -6 dB on your input. If you are not sure about what I mean by -6 db input I have a video on how to set your input levels but just try to get your levels to be as loud as you can without clipping.
3. Learn Your Tools
Learn about preamps, what it does and how to set it. Learn about meters, and how to read those meters. Learn about the compressor and the EQ. People ask questions like: What compressor settings should I use while I’m recording? How can I set my preamp while I’m recording? All of these things are objective and subjective because they are dependent upon your environment and the source that you are recording. I just can’t tell you what level to set your input level your preamp. Take time to learn exactly what the tools so that you will be using. That way you can get the best results. If you don't know what you are doing or what you are using, how can you get the best results? The basic stuff that you need to know to take the time to learn it.
4. Don’t Buy Stuff you don’t need
Don’t buy gear that you don’t even know what it does. I’m guilty myself, I see something new and shiny I want to find out what it does so I can find out if I can fit it into my workflow. We do this all the time. If you don't know what a piece of gear does exactly, don't buy it. This includes expensive studio monitors if you are just planning to do some home recording you don’t need to spend $10000 on studio monitors. This includes plugins too. The fewer plugins you use the easier it will be for you to set up, move around and get work done faster without so many choices.
5. Be organized
Organize your work. Some of us will save a session not knowing where that session is going. Make sure that you organize your work, save your sessions and don’t just let the computer automatically choose a place for you. Know exactly where the mix is being saved.
6. Create Backups of Important Sessions
It is very important to have a backup of your work if your hard drive fails your computer crushes. If this is important stuff that you are working on, you want to have a backup of it. The music is so important. Back it up twice or three times and use multiple drives. Redundancy is the key.
7. Use a Template
I’m not just saying this because wavywayne.com has some of the best templates that you can get for Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Studio One and now Luna.
Templates help you to get the effects that you want to get much more quickly, they allow you to mix as the client is in the booth, and helps you get a feel for where you are headed with the record. You can pull up a reverb as you are singing or as the client is recording or compressing as the signal is coming in. All of that is because you already have these pre-set templates.
Using templates helps you be a lot more efficient, simplifies your workflow and helps you stay consistent from song to song especially if you are working on an album project where you do want the songs to have some consistency.
8. Be Comfortable With Punching In
Somehow, Jay-Z makes you think that rappers just record one take and don’t do the punching. That is not the case. In most sessions that I have been in with professional singers, they all use a method for when they punch in. This is not about perfection in one take. If you are in a home studio environment, you have all the time in the world. You are not bound by hourly rates. If you need to record one line at a time that’s fine. Get used to punching in. Don’t be so locked in and keyed onto trying to get it in one take.
9. Use a Reference Mix
If you are not sure whether a mix sounds good or not, use a reference. That’s the fastest way, especially if you are in an untreated environment, or working on headphones that you are not very comfortable with. If you are not sure if this kick is too loud or if your vocals are panned too far to the left or the right, use a reference mix. By using a reference, you simply refer to a song that has been professionally mixed and is similar in content to the song that you are creating or working on. With this reference, you will check for things like balance or how loud are the levels of the vocals are in relationship to the kick or the guitar or the piano, and how widely panned are the background vocals. Judging your mix against the professionally mixed record will help you to understand and dissect what it takes to make a good sounding song and then you can emulate some of those things in your mix.
10. Record More
Practice makes better. You don’t record enough, record more. Record every day if you can. If you have a home studio, you are quarantined, or locked down, start recording every day. The more that you do it the more comfortable you will be with recording, the better results you will get.